Lolita Shanté Gooden, aka Roxanne Shanté, is a hip-hip icon, a living legend, if you will. Netflix has released Roxanne Roxanne, a biopic that chronicles Shanté’s humble beginnings in Queens, N.Y., in the ’80s. Shanté was a solidified rap staple from the Queensbridge Houses. She could rap circles around anybody and quickly became the go-to girl for a street battle.
DJ Marley Marl lived in those same projects. One day he saw 14-year-old Shanté doing laundry and he called down to her. She laid down a seven-minute freestyle on top of UTFO’s “Roxanne Roxanne” and went right back to doing laundry because, as she said, “My mom was truly a stickler for doing the laundry.”
That record, “Roxanne’s Revenge,” spawned hip-hop beef because it was considered a diss record, and it inspired more diss tracks after its release.
“I created this whole ‘Roxanne Roxanne’ wars that spread throughout the entire United States, later to spread internationally,” Shanté says. “You had ‘Baltimore’s Roxanne,’ then you had Select Records came out with their own, ‘The Real Roxanne,’ and all of these other women who decided they also wanted to be Roxanne, which is a fictional character that came from UTFO’s record. But none of them did it like Roxanne Shanté!”
Shanté stopped by The Root’s studios to share her memory of how she created diss records. Check out the video above.